Saturday, April 30, 2005

ginko tree update

ginko tree
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
'member that little tree that Steve and I planted in the sidewalk? It leafed!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Your Weekend Plan

The weekend's coming. You know it, I know it, the calendar knows it. But you're like...oh, man, another weekend of bad weather, but I want to have fun! Chill Bill, I've got it under control.

Here's my suggestion to you:

Friday night: Stop into Broadway Wines & Liquors and taste some nice booze. Pick up a few bottles to repeat at home tommorrow. Then catch your pals tonight at Fatty's.

Saturday: Yikes. Get to LoveDay 31 when it's not raining. You will look so pretty in that rowdy skirt and girly tunic thing. Find some din at JJ's and then dart home. Whip out that booze you bought yesterday and drink 'em up with your most recent Netflix. Rock out at home while all the fashionistas are out getting rained on in their hand-beaded elf shoes. Sucks to be them.

Sunday: Take a walk to Hallet's Cove. You know you're dyeing to. Come *on*! Then sit on your stoop with that last glass of vino and a magazine and try to block out the upcoming Monday.

Have fun!

- Joey

JJ's Fusion Sushi

JJs Sushi
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Everyone's always looking for good Japanese food in Astoria, but it's here already!

Run by French Culinary Institute graduate JJ Lin and her husband, this place is attractive and oh so tasty! It's on the lesser-traveled 31st Avenue. It's small and done in dark wooden furniture and wall hangings that are very relaxing. There are always tables available, for now anyway and the service is not rushed at all - you can linger over your tea or sake for as long as you like.

Creative rolls on the menu allow people who don't like different elements of sushi to be happy. It can be very vegan or vegetarian-friendly. Many rolls have interesting fruits and vegetables in them. The menu is huge and allows a lot of room for adventure eating.

The green tea is *really* green and makes me understand what lesser green teas are really trying to taste like. I particularly like the rolls in soy paper and the sashimi. The fish is so fresh and the food are always plated with flair.

Dessert, to an American tongue, can sometimes be disappointing in Asian restaurants, but JJ's banana spring rolls with vanilla ice cream are not to be missed. They are among of my favorite things to eat in Queens.


- Joey

Olympic Village Notes

Interesting article in Architectural Record with some details on the planned Olympic Village in Long Island City.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Free Wine Tastings

Astoria winos, I know you've had some tough times. Sometimes, you need a little more selection than Gallo or Boons. Grand Avenue Wine & Liquors rocks, but it's a bit of a haul for me. But now, my days of drinking are back!

Broadway Wines & Liquors opened this month and is finally offering our area a broad selection of good wine in many different price categories.

The owners are eager to hear what kind of wine you want to drink. So tell them! Let them know at one of the free wine tastings they hold every Friday night!

Broadway Wines & Liquors is on the South side of Broadway between 32nd and 33rd Streets. See you there!

- Joey

Kelly's Bar

Kelly's Bar
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
My friends pleaded with me not to write about Kelly's Bar on my blog.

Kelly's bar is on the Southwest corner of Cresent & Broadway. It's seductive. From the outside. If you've ever walked by it you know what I'm talking about. It is in a very nice brick building with a European castle-like structure on top. Then the bottom part is what seems like a kelly green stucco. So, it sticks out and, if you're like me, or my friends, you just have to know what's inside.

Now, there's a lot of Irish pubs in Astoria. Many of them have good bartenders, Guinness and Bass on tap, Irish folk music and at least of few older Irish dudes at the bar who all seem to know each other. What's not to like? Plus I *love* when the Irish bartenders call me "lovely lady" or something like that. It just turns me to jelly.

Kelly's did not turn me to jelly. It did however, make me consider the possibly that the Twilight Zone was based on real-life events. The inside of Kelly's is doused in American flags and Christmas lights as though the first was used put out a fire from the second. There is a karaoke machine on the wall and, at least on Sunday nights, it is used. There are no taps and the beer selection is limited, unlike the clientele who are quite diverse, uninhibited and friendly.

Kelly's is not my scene, but it is a scene and I think it's cool get in touch with all different parts of the community. If you check it out, let me know how it goes.

- Joey

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Skip Lunch Fight Hunger

I guess today is just do-gooder day.

Head's up for City Harvest's annual Skip Lunch to Fight Hunger day, May 9th. City Harvest collects food (and money) from donors in really innovative ways. They sort of move food around the City, from people who don't need it, to people who do need it.

Skip Lunch Fight Hunger

Besides, those lunchtime salad bars are kind of nasty anyway, don't ya' think?

- Joey

Who's running this town anyway?

I'm sick of hearing what an apathetic generation we are. Whatever! Most of my friends vote and a lot them are involved in cool organizations like and regularly contribute the few nickels and dimes they can spare.

So, I though you might like to know who's representing you, just in case you don't already.

Who represents me?

There's an election this fall! Now when you read about all the crazy dudes and dudets in the news, you'll know who's responsible for our little piece of NYC.

- Joey

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fatty's Cafe

Fatty's Cafe
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
I thought this place was going to be an annoying invasion-of-the-hipsters joint. If it was - I totally loved it!

Fatty's is a little place on the corner of Crescent and Ditmars with funny artwork inside. On a Sunday evening it was packed. We waited at the bar and a customer was nice enough to slide over so four of us could sit together. This was a good sign. No taps, but an excellent beer selection. The best I've seen in Queens. We ordered Magic Hat and after some prodding from a friend the bartender made us guess who was on his shirt: Trey, from Phish. I'm from the same town as Jon Fishman (who my uncle actually kicked out of his grade school band) so I have a weak spot for Phish. I immediately liked this place. A familiar version of Pressure Drop played and when I asked the bartender who it was he told me all about Toot's most recent album. He was really friendly and happy to chat it up with us. Thank god for that. I'm so sick of hipper-than-thou bartenders.

Our table came up and smelled a bit like ammonia (the cleaning product, not the restaurant on Broadway), but it was comfy. The smell dissipated. We started with crab cakes (good for not being in Maryland) and cheese empanadas. The empanadas were fabulous. The burritos, grilled chicken sofrito and steak were all very good. Fatty's is known for its Yard Burger which we didn't try, but it's supposed to be out of this world. I noticed "Birthday Cake" on the dessert menu, but we were too full to even imagine dessert.

My favorite thing about Fatty's might be that they managed to obtain the mix tape I made for my best friend my senior year of high school, and played it that night. Enjoy!

- Joey

Monday, April 25, 2005

Astoria Beach

Hallet's Cove
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Yes folks, we live on the beach. Who knew? Hallet's Cove is a beachy cove just north of Socrates Sculpture Park. You have to walk around the wall, but this is allowed! That said, you're only allowed to go canoeing when the Parks Department and the LIC Community Boathouse arrange one of these neat canoeing outings, which they plan to start doing once a month. So, keep your kayak under you bed for now, but get out that half-busted beach chair you take to Jones Beach once a year.

To get to Hallet's Cove, walk West on 31st Avenue until you fall into the East River. Then backtrack until you're on sand.

- Joey

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Loveday 31

Loveday 31
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
New vintage clothing shop right across from the Brick Cafe! Clothes are super cute, local, and you won't be paying Willie-B prices, either. It's just what we need here.

Where's all the thrifting in Astoria, 'ya know?

Just in case you don't know where Brick is, this is on 31st Avenue, just East of 33rd Street.


Mike & Maria @ Brick

Mike & Maria @ Brick
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
See? Look how cute my sleepy buddies look at Brick.

mmmmmmm...heat fans....

Friday, April 22, 2005

Walking Tour Rescheduled

FYI - the waterfront walking tour was rescheduled to Sunday!

Brick Cafe is Awesome

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
The Brick Cafe is perfect. I know, it doesn't sound possible. But it is.

My first apartment in Astoria was by 30th Av a few blocks East of the N train. I used to whiz by Brick on my bicycle writing it off as a yuppie establishment I needed no part in. Then two things happened. First, I moved to the Broadway area and my pals moved to 31st Av just West of the train. Guess what was exactly equidistant to us both? The second thing that happened was I realized I'm a young, urban, professional. God help me.

So, we descended upon the Brick Cafe. The Northern half of the place is a bar - a very cozy, slightly Mediterranean bar with a nice selection. This was the whole of the original business. You can order food there, too. Steve and I love to go there for a dessert + night cap after eating at lesser institutions in the City. There's couches and stools and table service. Plenty of room for a group. Cozy in the winter, and airy in the summer.

The Southern half of the place is the restaurant. It's done in country French charm. Distressed wooden tables and a long old mirror along the back make the room inviting. There's lots of outdoor and window seating which is nice - except for a bit of street noise. There are even outdoor heat fans when it gets cooler.

You are greeted warmly and handled gently by the knowledgeable wait staff. Make friends with them; you won't be sorry. They can always help you choose a wine. Every night they have lots of specials. Order them. You'll always start with olive spread and bread. The wine list is good and cleverly pasted to a wine bottle; although I could stand a few options under $20. This place seems to have a special flare for starters and salads, so don't skip them.

Steve orders the linguine and alternates between the red and white sauce every time we go (constantly). I order the specials. The pastas are good, and the risotto is the best I've had in Queens. My favorite entrees are usually the fish. I don't eat much meat, but I'm told these are great as well. I have always like the fact that there's a hamburger on the menu, just in case you're feeling like one. Brick could benefit from one great vegetarian item on the menu.

The food is always very fresh and we've noticed that when they get a particularly good batch of some ingredient, it makes appearances in many different dishes. The best reason to go to the Brick Cafe is the white chocolate mouse cake with a glass of Ruby port.

Brick is the best date or take-your-parents restaurant in the neighborhood, but you can still go very casual. Enjoy!


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day!

I've chosen Astoria resident, and National Poetry Series winner, Stephen Cramer's poem What We Do.

Visit to learn more about Poem in Your Pocket Day and read the Mayor's poem.


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Biking Queensboro Bridge & Queens Plaza

I used to bike the Queensboro bridge 2x a day to and from work. It's a bitch, but totally worth it. I watched the rebirth of the MetLife building and the new ball field on Roosevelt Island. I also rode straight through the filming of two Spiderman scenes and I think I've made friends with a few of the East River's resident cormorants.

Apparently the Federal government wants in on the action. Watch out grimy traffic tangle of Queens...

Cash comes to QNS Plaza

It occured to me that you might not know how to get to the bike path on the bridge. It can be tricky. Well, you're in luck. The New York City Department of City Planning makes these awesome bike maps of the City. You can get one for free by calling 311 or click here.


Pataki Vetoes Astoria Flood Relief

Despite my personal politics, this is not a political rant blog. There's enough of that going around. But this story is specific to Astoria and affects our neighbors.

Governor Pataki Vetoes Astoria Flood Relief Bill


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ARROW Community Garden

ARROW Community Garden
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Astoria Residents Reclaiming Our World (ARROW) and the City Parks Department have created a park and community garden on 35th Street between 35th & 36th Avenues. Mine is plot #27.

Stay tuned to see actual plant life!


Walking Tour of Astoria Waterfront

I love looking out on the East River from the park and the piers by City Lights. Now we finally get a chance to check out the whole waterfront - with experts! This is a great event - I'll definitely be there. I hope you will too!

This was rescheduled to Sunday - FYI!

Walking Tour of Astoria Waterfront


Monday, April 18, 2005

Where to shoot pool in Astoria?

I'm not a shark or anything. But many a burly man has lost a game of pool to me thinking that he could beat a little red-headed girl. Sometimes these folks are rowdy and bring their own pool cue (I don't own one), which makes the victory all the sweeter.

But where to play? Astoria has several options. We've played many tables in here and I will share our research with you. We live near Broadway & 36th Street, so these places are all roughly near there.

In short, Clic is good for swanky pool, McLaughlin's for reliable pool. Broadway Station is for meat-head pool. Scorpio - for obscure pool. Tacos Mexico - tasty ethnic pool. Astoria Billiards place on 30th Avenue – full sized, but dry pool.

This place doesn't know it's in Queens. Hello Clic, you're in Queens! Clic is on Broadway between 32 & 33 streets on the second floor. It opened a year and half ago. There is always has a big bouncer type dude standing outside the entrance and the first time we went, we got bounced because a member of my party was wearing shorts. See "hello" comment above.

If you make it inside, you'll see the palatial interior. Clic’s inside is stunning- if a bit cheesy. It opened as a pool hall with at least a dozen full size pool tables. Now there's only one, and it's free. The other tables were replaced with giant booths that are like huge wine casks. Great for groups. Clic is the size of the Astoria Beer Garden, but it’s inside. It has a great lounge area where you can sit and look out over Broadway. There's two bars and all drinks require a mortgage. They seem to have an odd habit of charging for drinks by the price of the bottle. Even though it’s listed on a menu, ask the price of a drink before you order it. We got burned. Earth to Clic: fours drinks do not cost $150. Especially when you made one of us take off our baseball cap.

Both times we've been to Clic, it's been pretty dead, but it may be a late night hot spot with the Greek 20-somethings in the neighborhood. The brown felt, billiards size, pool table is in excellent condition and has always been easy to get, when we've gone.

Broadway Station
Broadway Station is on Broadway, half a block south of the N train. It was bought, renovated and reopened about four years ago. Since that time they have aquired ever gimmick imaginable. You can play all kinds of legal gambling and they have maybe 10 different TVs which will show any sporting event at any given time. Perfect for the Yankees-Mets couple. They used to have a model train on a track just below the ceiling that was bit annoying and before they opened the kitchen, they had free popcorn which I preferred to the kitchen’s current offerings. They have their own microbrew and a respectable draft beer selection. They also occasionally organize outings like Mets games and sky diving.

They have moved the pool table to the back room which used to be patio seating. It’s extremely well-lit and quiet. It’s a little weird being back there – you’re very cut off from the front room with the bar. Consider bringing your own balls, the pool table is occasionally missing a few. Broadway Station has it’s own pool team and as a result, it can be a tough table. Occasionally there’s the “first date pool game” where some ex-frat guy is teaching his date how to play pool. The last time we were there, the date shocked us all by schooling him. It was pretty sweet.

This bar is on Broadway just West of 36th Street. It’s appears to be Croatian, always pretty quiet, and everyone wears black. It’s dark, has a beautiful rustic wood floor, exposed brick walls and a red felt pool table. The only beers on tap are Guinness and Bass – could be worse. There is always a sexy bartender behind the counter. In the summer the whole front of the place opens up and spills out onto the street and you see all the clad-in-black patrons sipping on frappes. There are 3 TVs and they all have soccer on, all of the time. There is comfy seating and tables and there is usually some available. Despite two “no smoking” signs behind the counter, and New York City law, someone is always smoking.

In the back, they have a foosball table and an electronic dart board. The foosball table leans slightly to the back, so you want to be the blue team. The pool table is in decent shape though I only saw three cues. No one’s ever playing on it. It’s all yours.

Tacos Mexico
Tacos Mexico is a great little Mexican take-out place on 38th Street, just South of Broadway. You can eat in, but it’s still like a take-out place. They have now expanded to the space next door. Tacos Mexico, so far and I can tell, is pretty authentic. The food is great, cheap and now there’s a pool table and a bar. It’s a largely Spanish-speaking crowd, but you can certainly manage in English. Even if you don’t order food, you’ll get free homemade tortilla chips and salsa which are excellent. The place is very well-lit.

In the front of the bar there’s a foosball table which only costs 50 cents. There’s also a jukebox. The pool table is in back – standard green felt, bar size stuff, and it only costs 75 cents. The cheapest game in town. It’s being used about half the time. The players are usually Mexicans with cowboy boots and hats and I don’t think they bought these because In Style magazine said they were must-buys for the season.

Astoria Billiards place on 30th Avenue
There used to be a great billiards hall on 31st street under the N train. It closed and a new greek / international foods store has moved in. Since then, this billiards place has put up a bright new awning. It is on the North side of 30th Avenue by 33rd street. It’s a nice, legitimate pool hall. It has one fatal flaw: it doesn’t serve alcohol. I’m not sure what this is about. Maybe they are really hardcore and don’t want the felt to get damaged. Maybe they’ve seen one too many fights. Maybe they lost their liquor license. I really don’t know, but it’s a bummer. The crowd is very ethnic, we’ve heard several languages spoken there. Everyone’s pretty friendly.

The tables are full-sized and there’s always a few available. As in typical pool hall fashion, you rent the table and are charged by how much time you use it for.

McLaughlin’s is a very reliable, Irish pub. It’s as much about the bar flies as the bar. I’ve gotten to know many of them over the years. Hell – maybe I am one! The bar is on the South side of Broadway just West of the N train. It is owned by John McLoughlin who you can find behind the bar on Monday nights. Hello single, Irish 30-somethings: what are you waiting for? John McLoughlin is a pleasure to chat with and a great bartender. Tommy’s behind that bar most other nights and also quite a pro. They have the standard drafts and another tap that John’s been rotating for a few years. Tell him your favorite beer and it might be next in line. Once you get to know the bartenders, every third drink is free. McLaughlin’s is a clean, shiny pub. There’s a dart board in back and 3 TV including a huge widscreen in back. There’s no better seat to the Mets. They don’t serve food, but they don’t mind if you bring it or order in. There’s also a juke box with excellent selections including a variety of Irish folk music, which is played quite a lot actually. You’ll be impressed to see that the bar flies know all the words and are quite uninhibited about singing them out loud.

A few years ago I organized a pool team for McLaughlin’s for the league, but my timing was bad and the whole thing fell though. Regardless, from time to time, pool and been quite a phenomena at this pub and it’s a great table to play on. It’s in good shape, and you can often catch it unused. Once in a while one of the bar flies will challenge you and beat you one-handed.

There are maybe a couple of places to play on Steinway as well. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on these or other places.

- Joey

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
What do you think of our new tree?

Steve and I planted this little ginko tree this morning in the sidewalk. A couple years ago a tree got cut down there. There're lots of abandoned plots like this around the neighborhood.

Plant stuff!!!


Friday, April 08, 2005

Who stole the "A" in Steinway?

Who stole the "A" in Steinway???

This apparantly happened last night!

Please see for the suspects!

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.

Friday, April 01, 2005

More Hello

I live in Astoria, NYC along with a zillion other 20-somethings. Astoria's awesome. I'll show you my favorite things and - if you want - you can tell me about yours.

BTW, "Joey in Astoria" is a reference to Lisa in New York a wonderful kid's book.

I'm a girl - Joanna. But you can call me Joey.


Hello Blogosphere!